Philadelphia Flyers: How Brayden Schenn and Scott Hartnell Are Ruining the Team

Jason SapunkaCorrespondent IIOctober 22, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 22:  T.J. Oshie #74 of the St. Louis Blues clears the puck from James van Riemsdyk #21 and Scott Hartnell #19 of the Philadelphia Flyers on October 22, 2011 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Blues defeated the Flyers 4-2.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

It could not be any more obvious, which makes the Philadelphia Flyers' two-game losing streak incredibly frustrating.

Philadelphia began the 2011-12 NHL season with a flawless 3-0 start, beating the defending Stanley Cup and President's Trophy winners in the process. After picking up a point in an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings, the Flyers dominated the Ottawa Senators in a 7-2 victory.

Then, inexplicably, the team shook up the roster.

To the AHL went tough, hard-hitting fourth-liner Zac Rinaldo along with Harry Zolnierczyk, who had scored a goal in his first career NHL game against Ottawa. Brought to the NHL in return was prospect Brayden Schenn, acquired with Wayne Simmonds this summer in the trade that sent Mike Richards to the Kings.

After a 4-0-1 start, there was no reason for the team to change. However, general manager Paul Holmgren and head coach Peter Laviolette did just that.

The first game after these changes was a 5-2 loss to the Washington Capitals. After a 7-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, the Capitals are the NHL's only unbeaten team and sit atop the NHL standings with a 7-0 record.

Going into Saturday night's game against the 3-4 St. Louis Blues, the Flyers decided to make further roster changes by adjusting their forward lines.

Schenn took Jake Voracek's spot on the line with Danny Briere and Wayne Simmonds. Voracek was moved to an entirely new line with Matt Read and James van Riemsdyk.

Van Riemsdyk had played on the Flyers' top line with Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr. His spot was given to Scott Hartnell.

The result of these changes was increased ice time for Schenn and Hartnell, whereas Voracek, Read, van Riemsdyk and Sean Couturier received less ice time against the Blues than their season average heading into the game.

Voracek dropped from 15:09 to 11:38, Read went from 16:38 to 11:54, van Riemsdyk 15:45 to 12:40 and Couturier played 10:29 after averaging 14:05 in the first six games.

Meanwhile, Schenn played 19:20 in Saturday's game and Hartnell's 16:01 of playing time was four minutes above his previous average of 11:38.

Prior to Saturday's game, Voracek had three points in six games. Read totaled six points in six games. Van Riemsdyk and Couturier each had four points in six games.

Meanwhile, Schenn has no points in two games and is a minus-three. Hartnell now has two points in seven games, picking up two minor penalties in the game against St. Louis.

Essentially, the team has dropped the ice time of players averaging more than four points through the first six games for two players who have recorded no points, three minor penalties and are a combined minus-eight.

Looking at the bigger picture, the Flyers were averaging 3.8 goals per game with a 4-0-1 record before these changes took place. They've scored two goals and lost each game since.

Schenn will likely be a key part of this franchise at some point; but bringing him into a successful team at the expense of winning is not a good decision. On the other hand, Hartnell is quickly overstaying his welcome with the Flyers and has no reason to be receiving more ice time.

Holmgren and Laviolette need to see the toll their mistakes are taking on the team and make the necessary changes to fix these issues.

It sounds simple to say the players who helped the team should be getting the ice time, but apparently the notion is not as easy to understand for the men running this organization.